Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of hydrogen. Part 18. Airliner hydrogen tank

By Bjorn Fehrm

December 18, 2020, ©. Leeham News: After discussing the risk-reducing research programs we need to do before a program launch in 2027, we focus the next Corners on the hydrogen airliner’s biggest problem, the liquid hydrogen tank.

In this Corner, we start with the placement and discuss how it affects aircraft performance.

Figure 1. Airbus ZEROe turbofan airliner concept. Source: Airbus.

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The A350, Part 1: Intro and A350-800

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction

Dec. 17, 2020, © Leeham News: After running a series on the Dreamliner, LNA will now start a series on Airbus’ latest-generation twin-aisle aircraft, the A350. Airbus should deliver its 400th A350 this month.

After a delayed ramp-up to 10 units per month, Airbus had to cut the A350 production rate to five per month after the COVID-19 pandemic. The European OEM might have to follow Boeing’s footsteps and reduce twin-aisle production rates further.

The A350 program has an official backlog of 532 orders: 415 for the -900 and 117 for -1000. Once passenger traffic recovers, Airbus should ramp production back up of its best-selling twin-aisle aircraft.

Despite its success, the A350 program wasn’t without hiccups. There were several and sizable iterations before Airbus finalized the A350 platform, and the -800 variant is non-existent but not officially canceled.

Summary
  • A few iterations before launch;
  • Development without significant issues;
  • An in-favor aircraft family;
  • The aborted A350-800.

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HOTR: Narrowbody delivery recovery in 2025

By the Leeham News Team

Dec. 15, 2020, © Leeham News: “We do not expect Airbus or Boeing to get back to planned narrowbody deliveries (adjust for MAX grounding) before 2025, with widebody deliveries taking much longer.”

That’s the view of Bernstein Research in a note published Dec. 14. It is a pessimistic view that belies the hopes of others in the industry.

 

Boeing officials said they hope to deliver about half the ~450 stored MAXes in 2021. Most of the remaining stored aircraft will deliver in 2022. There will be some spillover into 2023, Boeing said.

On this basis, Bernstein’s forecast suggests Boeing will deliver about 208 new-production MAXes in 2021. This computes to a production rate of 17/mo. The current rate is 6/mo, according to a Wall Street analyst. A rate break to 10/mo is expected soon.

In 2022, the Bernstein data suggests Boeing will deliver about 378 new-production MAXes. This is a production rate of about 31/mo. Boeing said it hopes to be at rate 31 in “early 2022.”

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Boeing, SPEEA and Union Reamalgamation

Editor’s Note: This is another in a series of articles examining the future of Boeing, its unions and Washington state. There first article appeared here. The second appeared here.

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By the Leeham News Team

Introduction

Dec. 14, 2020, © Leeham News: In a past element of this series, LNA looked at a potential path forward for IAM 751 Machinists District members to become a profit center as opposed to a pure cost to Boeing.

The Prime Directive is for Boeing to make money.

Boeing must be profitable. This is its mission for shareholders, employees, the supply chain, new development, for Washington and other states and for the US economy.

Boeing must then by definition divorce itself from unnecessary costs. Boeing defines SPEEA as an unnecessary cost. SPEEA is in the same position as the IAM in that it must change this reality. The path forward would be a huge lift, it involves some un-union-like thinking in a couple of areas.

Summary:
  • Trust, need and profitability.
  • Reinventing technicians.
  • A strong case for SPEEA.

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Pontifications: Lessons of the Titans: Book review

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 14, 2020, © Leeham News: If you want a good business book to read over the Christmas holidays, get Lessons from the Titans by three analysts at the independent Melius Research Co.

The subtitle, a mouthful, aptly describes the book: “What companies in the new economy can learn from the great industrial giants to Drive Sustainable Success.”

Yes, I know. The first reaction to a “business book” is, how boring. Not so, this one.

The analysts are Scott Davis, Carter Copeland and Rob Wertheimer. They provide first-hand and often insider accounts of their coverage of some of the USA’s most significant industrial companies.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of hydrogen. Part 17. Hydrogen airliner program

By Bjorn Fehrm

December 11, 2020, ©. Leeham News: We use this Corner to define the time table for our hydrogen airliner program and for what areas we need to conduct risk-reducing research before we embark on an actual design.

As we said in last week’s Corner, we aim to develop a hydrogen airliner for the heart of the domestic market after the COVID-19 Pandemic. It’s a 160 to 180 seat single-aisle turbofan driven airliner, using liquid hydrogen as the fuel.

Figure 1. Airbus ZEROe hydrogen-fueled airliner concepts. Source: Airbus.

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The 717 and A220, Part 2: Operational economics comparison

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

December 10, 2020, © Leeham News: Last week, we introduced the Boeing 717 and its closest replacement size-wise, the Airbus A220-100. Delta, a major 717 customer, is accelerating the replacement of the 717 with the A220-100 under the pressure of the COVID19 pandemic.

We use our performance model to understand why. What are the gains when going from the 717 to an A220-100?

Delta Airlines Boeing 717-2BD landing at LaGuardia. Source: Wikipedia.

Summary
  • The 717 version of the DC-9 architecture produced a rugged and well-liked short-haul airliner. It’s five abreast cabin is preferred over the six-abreast Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
  • It’s size-wise in the same 115 seat bracket as the 15 years younger Airbus A220-100. It’s 40 years old airframe architecture holds up well compared to the modern A220.
  • The engines of the two are also 15 years apart. But the Rolls-Royce BR715 of the 717 was originally designed to fly on fast business jets, necessitating a low by-pass ratio design. This is a handicap when used on lower speed airliners. It shows against the high bypass ratio Pratt & Whitney PW1500G of the A220.

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Podcast: 10 Minutes About Embraer’s Turboprop

Dec. 7, 2020, (c) Leeham News: Embraer studies whether to develop a new generation turboprop to compete with and replace the ATR-72 and De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400. Both of these airplanes were designed in the 1980-90s, although each went through updates and modernization.

Developing a new turboprop has lots of challenges. Not the least is the size of the market.

Embraer’s preliminary concept for a new generation turboprop airliners. Source: Embraer.

LNA’s Scott Hamilton and Bjorn Fehrm discuss the Embraer “E3” concept in the next installment of the “10 Minutes About” series of podcasts.

A year of reckoning for Low-Cost Long-Haul

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Dec. 7, 2020, © Leeham News: Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, numerous carriers have either ceased operations or gone into court-supervised restructurings. Among those undergoing restructurings are the world’s two largest low-cost long-haul airlines, AirAsia X and Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Both carriers were in a precarious financial condition before the pandemic. Their troubles contrast with the financial solidity of some major low-cost airlines, including Ryanair and Wizz Air.

IAG closed its Level base in Paris Orly, while Lufthansa ceased SunExpress Deutschland’s operations. NokScoot, a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Nok Air, also ceased operations after years of losses.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Primera Air ceased operations in 2018. Wow Air and XL Airways folded in 2019. Along with AirAsia X’s and Norwegian’s financial struggles, this raises questions about the viability of the low-cost long-haul business model.

LNA looks at the sequence of events that led to four major carriers’ failure and the viability of their business models.

Summary
  • Low-cost long-haul isn’t new;
  • Bringing no-frills to the next level;
  • Undercapitalized for the level of risk;
  • When going mainstream does not work;
  • One certainty and a question mark on viability.

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Pontifications: Don’t lose sight of the future, says top Boeing exec

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 7, 2020, © Leeham News: “It’s really important that we stay in tune with the market dynamics, making the adjustments we need to do and not lose sight of the future. Which is absolutely we are not doing.”

Greg Smith, the of Enterprise Operations and chief financial officer for The Boeing Co., added, “We haven’t lost sight of the importance of making investments that are critical to the future of the business. So, when we think about future product strategy, we’re continuing to reprioritize and streamline our R&D investments to CapEx.

“When we were in pursuit around the NMA, we asked the team to step back and reassess the commercial development strategy and determine what family of aircraft to be needed for the future. And that team continues to work and they’re building off the work that we did on NMA.”

Smith made the remarks at last Friday’s Credit Suisse annual conference.

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